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Writer & Historian

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Cultures

Consumer Humour

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February 13, 2011
Consumer Humour

Starting in April 1966 I began writing a monthly column for Canadian Consumer magazine. The column ran until October 1987. That spring I had been hired as national communications director for the Consumers’ Association of Canada. It was an august title but provided no staff and the salary was modest. The column was...
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Little Media

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February 13, 2011
Little Media

In the mid-1980s, I started writing for the now defunct content, Canada's media magazine. After contributing several feature articles focused on various aspects of the media, I was asked to write a column under the heading "Little Media".
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Tea Leaves – Journeys to the Tea Lands

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February 10, 2011
Tea Leaves – Journeys to the Tea Lands

The tea lady woke me with a rap on the door of my clean but tiny room at Dolphin Square, Pimlico, in London. Tea was the last thing on my mind at 7:30 a.m. But this was London, England, where morning tea is a tradition that dates back even before Thomas Twining set...
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Breathing tango in BA

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February 7, 2011
Breathing tango in BA

In Buenos Aires the people live for and by the tango. We went in search of it in this sprawling metropolis of more than 15 million ‘portenos’ on the south shore of the broad Rio de la Plata that forms the border with Uruguay. What we found was the iconic heart of the city.
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Killing for Coal

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February 6, 2011
Killing for Coal

Few Canadians will have heard of the infamous Ludlow Massacre, a “slaughter of the innocents” at a workers’ tent city in the coalfields of Colorado in the spring of 1914. Fewer still will know that in the footnotes to that show of corporate bullying against miners and their families a familiar name pops up,...
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There is Power in a Union

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February 5, 2011
There is Power in a Union

Celebrated American anarchist Emma Goldman once tried to enter the world’s oldest profession to help pay for an assassination attempt by her sidekick Alexander Berkman, a gesture that was meant to help the workers’ cause. Both attempts failed. Goldman was sent home by her first client, who said she was too inexperienced, Berkman went...
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Made in Dagenham

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January 22, 2011
Made in Dagenham

Sally Hawkins will be hailed as the British Norma Rae for her stunning portrayal of an unlikely strike leader in Made in Dagenham, the true story of a 1968 strike for equal pay for women. And she deserves every bit of the applause as does the film, although some might argue that it is...
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Barney’s Version

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January 19, 2011
Barney’s Version

The late Montreal writer Mordecai Richler gave us many characters that reveal both the comedy and the tragedy of human relationships, but Barney Padovsky is perhaps the novelist’s crowning achievement in that regard with this masterful creation of a schmuck of schmucks.
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Stolen livelihoods

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January 11, 2011
Stolen livelihoods

The shameful story of how Japanese fishing families were treated on the North American West Coast is well-known among historians, but Spirit of the Nikkei Fleet brings that story to life through oral history accounts from the very people who experienced that systematic racism.
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Dickens would have loved Slumdog

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January 10, 2011
Dickens would have loved Slumdog

When television wasn’t much older than I was, I remember watching a show every week called The Millionaire. A middle-aged man in a suit would knock on a stranger’s door and give them a cheque for $1 million. Then the audience would watch as the money changed the life of the recipient for better...
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Books